Attorneys for one of the defendants on trial for his alleged participation in Pilot Flying J’s fuel rebate scheme are claiming that CEO Jimmy Haslam was also aware of the plan.
According to The Knoxville News Sentinel, which is providing daily news coverage of the trial in eastern Tennessee, the attorney for the company’s former president Mark Hazelwood, has repeatedly told jurors that Haslam was aware of the scheme, and that Hazelwood had no direct knowledge of the conspiracy.
Haslam has not been charged in connection with the conspiracy, which involved several of the company’s highest executives in the sales division. He also denied any knowledge of the scheme.
Hazelwood is one of four former high-level employees of the truck stop chain on trial in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga, Tenn., on charges that they participated in a multimillion dollar scheme to bilk trucking companies out of promised rebates for diesel fuel purchases. Another 14 former employees have pleaded guilty to various charges stemming from the conspiracy.
Some of those who have pled guilty are now testifying against their former colleagues.
Prosecutors attacked Hazelwood’s lack of knowledge with testimony from former Pilot staffer Janet Welch, who forwarded an email to Hazelwood related to the fuel rebate scheme in February 2008, asking for his approval to short a trucking company’s rebate by one penny per gallon for more than 160,000 gallons of fuel. Welch has already confessed guilt to her role in the conspiracy.
Alongside Hazelwood, the three other former Pilot Flying J employees on trial include former vice president of national sales Scott Wombold, and regional saleswomen Heather Jones and Karen Mann.
Defense attorneys say Hazelwood and Wombold insist they didn’t know about the fraud and didn’t participate, while Jones and Mann say they just followed orders and did their jobs.
The trial is expected to last into December.
Copyright © OOIDA